The 2009 vintage in Germany is being hailed — by the German wine industry at least — as one of the greatest. I hear this every few years from vintners who are trying to sell wine — not just the Germans — so I take this proclamation with a grain of salt.
In Germany, 2009 started out a bit iffy with cold weather persisting through July. This, combined with late and interrupted flowering, affected yields but not quality as the weather gods took mercy and provided plenty of sunshine and heat in August and September.
Many think that across the board, the quality is very good to great. While there are more late-harvest bottlings (auslese, beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese), the botrytis mold essential to those wines — especially in the Mosel — was in short supply.
Acid hounds might prefer the 2008 vintage, but that doesn’t mean the 2009s are flabby. In some cases, lush might be a better word.
My impression thus far is that 2009 has the potential to be a superb, age-worthy vintage, but we won’t know that for a few years. However, the dry wines are showing extremely well, offering more intensity than the 2008s and at the same time retaining balance and finesse.
So for now, at least make sure to give these three a try:
Graf von Schönborn, Schloss Schönborn riesling dry, 2009 (Rheingau, Germany): The Schönborn family purchased their first vineyards in the 14th century. They now have numerous holdings in the Rheingau and have branched out to Franken and Portugal. In spite of its growth, Schloss Schönborn has remained a family-run company and the wines are better than ever. Tart with vivacious nectarine fruit and floral overtones, this is a gem. Suggested retail: $19.99
Weingut Dreissigacker riesling dry, Hasensprung, 2009 (Rheinhessen, Germany): Believing his brother would one day take over his family’s estate, Jochan Dreissigacker embarked on a career in finance. Once again, the wine gods intervened, introducing his older sibling to a woman who came with vineyards of her own. Still in his early 20s, Dreissigacker found himself with a new profession. Since taking over, the property has become certified organic and his wines are as pristine as they come. This single vineyard is the flagship. Floral with stone fruits, minerals and a long, piquant finish, Jochan Dreissigacker is a name to watch. Suggested retail: $35
Weingut Robert Weil riesling dry, 2009 (Rheingau, Germany): Robert Weil has been considered one of the top estates in the Rheingau for as long as I’ve been a German-wine lover. Founded by Robert Weil in 1875, a professor turned vigneron, it has stayed in the family, and great-grandson Wilhelm Weil is now at the helm. With loads of minerality — and slate and gunpowder aromas, green apples and immense purity — this is not only a tasty treat now, but also should continue to develop over the next five years. Suggested retail: $39.99
Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant. Please submit your questions to Pamela@Skrewcap.com.